Leftoverture

Alternative rockers are getting behind Alternative Radio.

This is going to be a loooong campaign...

Shopping centered:Why the hell do Denver media outlets feel compelled to treat the opening of a new mall like the unveiling of the freakin' Statue of Liberty? You'd think the press would have learned a lesson from the ludicrous overhyping of Park Meadows as a "retail resort"; even Rocky Mountain News gossip columnist Penny Parker ridiculed this label in an August 6 column (despite the fact that her gushy writing as the Denver Post's retail reporter about the complex's debut, which did more to popularize the aforementioned phrase than anything else, inspired wits to christen her "Penny Parker Meadows"). But, no. Coverage of the August 11 bow of FlatIron Crossing in Broomfield was so excessive that Cherry Creek Shopping Center sent everyone who has ever worked at Westword a commemorative tenth-anniversary mug, just to remind us that there are still other malls in town.

It was tough to say which TV station sank lowest -- talk about a photo finish -- but my vote goes to Channel 4, whose execs are probably still in mourning over the recent passing of polar-bear-cub machine Ulu. The station's 4 p.m. newscast on August 8, a full three days before the ribbon cutting, led with about five minutes on FlatIron, including live fulminating courtesy of weekend anchor Kathy Walsh and a promise/threat that reports from the mall would begin at 6 a.m. on the big day. They weren't kidding: Jenny Dean, among the outlet's more credible presences, was at the scene bright and early to tell the breathless masses about desperately important things such as the metro area's latest Nordstrom store.

Guess she drew the short straw.

Channel 7 hardly ignored the hoopla: In addition to the usual ballyhoo from Bill Clarke on the eve of the official introduction, the outlet offered up helicopter footage to show addicted shoppers how best to get to the site. On most days, however, the station's news programming is the most journalistically solid in town -- which is why the impending departure of news director Diane Mulligan is such bad news.

Because Channel 7's ratings remain at subterranean levels during most time slots, Mulligan's all-too-familiar explanation for her decision -- she wants to spend more time with her six-year-old son, Robert -- has left many observers wondering what's really behind the move. But both Mulligan and general manager Cindy Velasquez do an awfully convincing job of arguing against such cynicism. "When I told Robert, 'Mommy quit her job today,' he said, 'So you can spend more time with me? That is so great!'" Mulligan recounts. For her part, Velasquez notes that Mulligan has agreed to remain in her post until October 1, and underlines her hope that Mulligan will stay on afterward in a different, more time-flexible capacity.

Meanwhile, Velasquez doesn't soft-pedal Channel 7's difficulties in building its audience. "We do have days where overnight measurements indicate we're in the game. But the problem is, we don't have enough of them, and to be honest with you, there are some nights that are dreadful." Nonetheless, she continues to preach consistency: "We're certainly anxious to see some movement, but we know that change happens in markets quite slowly. So I don't see us changing the direction of our news content."

Not yet, anyhow.

That takes the cake: Poor Rob Reuteman. The Rocky Mountain News's business editor, who just had to replace a couple of veteran writers ("Fox on the Run," July 27), already has to repeat the drill: Dana Coffield and Richard Williamson, joined by exiting city reporter Bill Scanlon, have vamoosed in favor of Interactive Week, a high-tech trade publication.

Just how JOA-related these latest abandonments are is debatable. However, so many folks are splitting for whatever reason that the paper's longstanding practice of saying goodbye to departing employees with a sheet cake has been shelved. As usual, editor John Temple failed to return a message seeking comment -- 'cuz I'm so scary, I guess -- but a reliable source reveals that in lieu of dessert for those leaving, the News will host monthly sheet-cake feasts for all the new hires replacing them.

Considering the traffic at the Rocky's revolving door, maybe the next joint operating agreement the paper signs should be with a bakery.

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